11 players Preston North End could target in the transfer window to play crucial role

Sorba Thomas in action against PNESorba Thomas in action against PNE
Sorba Thomas in action against PNE | Getty Images
It’s an area of the team PNE will surely target again this summer

Preston North End will be on the search for wide players again this summer, to play in manager Ryan Lowe’s wing-back system.

Liam Millar is heading back to parent club FC Based, with speculation about a potential return to England having done the rounds already. On the opposite side, Preston signed Calvin Ramsay this time last year but his loan move was cut short in January.

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North End did not bring in competition for Brad Potts, so could well revisit that in the upcoming window - which opens on Friday. It’s a niche position to recruit for, though Manchester United loan man Alvaro Fernandez was a success in 2022/23. With it a key position in the formation Lowe plays, here are 11 players who could fit the bill...

Right wing-backs

Lasse Sorensen

On the back of a strong season in League One, the 24-year-old could well have Championship clubs eyeing a move. The Dane has played 85 games over the last two seasons with Lincoln City, who narrowly missed out on the play-offs. Sorensen, formerly of Stoke City, scored four goals and provided eight assists for the Imps last season. He has one year left on his deal.

Alfie Gilchrist

There have been links to the Chelsea youngster and it’s easy to see why North End would be keen on a loan swoop. Gilchrist is one of the Blues’ highly rated prospects and he played 11 games in the Premier League last season, scoring once. Gilchrist has high potential and a strong loan spell in the Championship could be the perfect next step.

Sorba Thomas

The Wales international would make a lot of sense for Preston, but a fee would be required and there could be plenty of competition. Thomas reportedly has a £750,000 price tag, after scoring four goals and assisting nine last season. In the last three campaigns, he has provided 27 assists. Thomas was right at the top for creation in the latest season, with his crossing and set piece delivery a threat. He’s got two years left on his contract with the relegated Terriers.

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Brooke Norton-Cuffy

The Arsenal man has had three loan spells in the Championship now. After spells with Rotherham United and Coventry City, the 20-year-old managed six goal contributions for Millwall - for whom he made 40 appearances. Norton-Cuffy has shown the durability and athleticism required to play at wing-back. He may want assurances of game time, mind, which is difficult for North End to give while Brad Potts - one of Lowe’s most trusted players - is in the building.

Brandon Williams

Injuries meant that the 23-year-old didn’t feature in the second half of last season, for Ipswich Town. That would be a concern, but Williams is now available on a free transfer after his release from Manchester United. The defender, capable of playing on both sides, is now seeking a permanent move. He showed his quality with that solo effort against PNE, at Portman Road. One issue could well be wages, given Williams’ time at Old Trafford.

Left wing-backs

Luke Chambers

Born in Preston, it would not be a surprise if the Lilywhites were looking at the Liverpool teenager this summer. He joined Wigan Athletic on loan in January and played 18 games for Shaun Maloney’s side, scoring one goal and assisting three. Chambers has made four appearances for the Liverpool first team, but after an impressive spell at Wigan it could be time for him to step up to the Championship next season. Location wise, it would make perfect sense.

Josh Wilson-Esbrand

North End were keen on the Manchester City defender last summer, but he joined French side Reims on loan - before switching to Cardiff City in the winter. Wilson-Esbrand didn’t have the most productive campaign, but is another year wiser and with more experience under his belt. His contract at City runs until 2027 and time is still on his side, so another loan move could be in the offing as he looks to make his mark on the Championship stage.

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Ben Chrisene

Blackburn Rovers signed the Aston Villa man on loan in January and he impressed, making 18 appearances in all competitions. The combative, technically sound defender is 20 and has one year left to run on his Villa Park contract. Chrisene didn’t score or assist during his Rovers stint, but had the energy and power to get up and down the left flank.

Sam McCallum

Signed by Norwich City for a reported £3.5million in 2020, the 23-year-old is now a free agent after being released by the Canaries. McCallum has made more than 200 appearances at Championship level and has the qualities to operate at wing-back. McCallum played 29 games for Norwich City last season. Ex-Canaries man Darren Huckerby recently said: "He played as a full-back for Norwich but maybe he’s better suited to being a wing-back because he’s so good going forward. I am sure there will be plenty of other clubs looking for a real bargain on a free transfer."

Owen Beck

The Liverpool defender spent last season on loan at Dundee and earned a spot in the PFA Scotland Premiership Team of the Year, for his performances. The Welshman played 28 times for the club, scoring two goals and assisting four. The 21-year-old has a couple of years left on his Anfield contract.

Max Lowe

Also now a free agent, with Sheffield United letting the 27-year-old go after four years at Bramall Lane. Lowe is experienced at Championship level and capable at both sides of the game. There have, though, been surprise links to Everton - so Lowe could be a player out of Preston’s reach, in terms of both money and competition from other clubs.

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